When Andy posted the podcast to his site, within hours, the comment box exploded with KJVO challengers wanting to take me to task for my views. I think he told me there were more comments in response to my interview than all the comments to all 50 plus podcasts he had done combined. I tried to respond to a number of them, but they were cross-posted with Facebook and their comment interface made it near impossible to follow all the comment threads so that I wasn’t sure who it was I was answering. Out of annoyance, I eventually gave up.
One commenter, however, came here to my blog and wondered why I hadn’t answered the questions that particular individual presented to me. When I explained the irritation I had with the commenting format and that I hadn’t even seen that person’s questions, it was suggested I was offering a convenient excuse to dodge answering them. I stated that if those same questions were posted under my link to the original interview, I would answer them. The person posted them and so here we are. Rather than leaving my answers in the combox, I thought I would make a post out of it.
Now I don’t expect my answers to be at all persuasive for my KJVO antagonist; in fact, I expect the KJVO apologists to offer their “defeater” rebuttals. However, I know there are more sober-minded individuals who will encounter KJV onlyists in their churches, Bible study fellowships, and workplaces who may be challenged with the exact same questions, so for them I offer my responses.
Fred says it’s a myth that “heretics, corrupted men and ungodly people” came in and introduced error and theological heresy. However God warns us that this will happen in passages like Jude 4 and 2 Peter 2:1. Why is it hard to believe and why would a Biblically literate person say it’s a “myth”?
The question is a strawman, because I never said heretics or ungodly men never introduced theological error. If you listen carefully to what I did say, I said heretics and ungodly men never intentionally corrupted the biblical manuscripts.
The key, fundamental talking point in KJVO apologetics is that heretical men produced corrupted texts that are identified as the Alexandrian manuscripts. Over time, true, Bible-believing Christians recognized that intentional corruption and laid them aside and never copied them. Hence the reason why the so-called Alexandrian manuscripts are so few and the Byzantine manuscripts, the family of manuscripts from which the KJV is ultimately derived, are so many. The Alexandrian manuscripts may be “the oldest,” say the KJVO apologists, but that doesn’t mean they are “the best.”
Heretics were active within the first century during the establishment of the NT church. The whole Judaizer issue was one of confronting and answering gross error regarding the Gospel (Acts 15, Galatians 1-2). The apostle John wrote his first epistle in order to answer the error that claimed Jesus was never physical flesh. Neither group were ever accused of changing the written manuscripts of the Word of God. They were accused of perverting the teaching from the Word of God. See the difference?
So while it is true that heretics were (and still are) active in introducing theological heresy, they didn’t change or alter physical manuscripts in order to spread their heresy. They twisted the interpretation of the biblical text to teach their heresy. Consider for example Arius, who taught that Jesus wasn’t divine and was a created being. He and his followers didn’t change manuscripts to promote that heresy, but reinterpreted the Bible based upon fallacious exegesis in order to teach the heresy. That has always been the standard operation by heretics.
Fred later says there was “no heretical cabal” that attempted to corrupt the Bible. However, based on what we see very early on, as recorded in Genesis 3, why is it so hard to believe that Satan would attack the Word of God? The very first words we see from Satan are an attack on God’s Word!
The same response applies here. Satan didn’t physically alter a manuscript. He reinterpreted what God said. I am certainly not saying Satan never attacks the Word of God, but it is the manner in which he attacks it. Typically it is through reinterpretation and the promotion of twisted doctrine that is developed from passages taken out of context. For example gay “Christians” who want to reinterpret the Bible to be affirming of homosexual behavior rather than condemning it. Never has a secret group of heretics gathered manuscripts, changed a word here or a phrase there that somehow takes away from essential Christian doctrine, and then tried to introduce their changes to the Christian community.
Fred says the best way to bring someone else out of King James “onlyism” is to prove to them that there was “no conspiracy” to change the Bible. How can one “prove” that?
Quite simply by studying the true and accurate history of the transmission of the biblical text. KJVO apologists would do themselves a grand favor by visiting Michael Kruger’s website Canon Fodder and reading his articles on how the NT canon was established. Better yet would be to purchase his book The Canon Revisited in which he goes into great detail explaining how early Christians recognized and affirmed the NT canon and transmitted the NT documents.
What KJVO apologists do not seem to realize is that their conspiracy theory of how we got our Bible that involves heretical men slightly corrupting physical manuscripts so as to introduce heresy is a variation on Walter Bauer’s thesis that there were competing doctrines among the early Christians that gave rise to a diversity of Christian “orthodoxies” and even NT textual “traditions.”
Fred says that the critical text is actually made up of the majority texts and NOT the Textus Receptus. However, the critical text wasn’t created until the “discovery” of Sinaiticus. The critical text was created from two manuscripts, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. Is that a majority?
I took the time to listen again to the interview and I have no idea where this comment is coming from because I said no such thing. It’d be helpful if an exact quote was provided. The commenter may be confusing the fact that the TR, the base text used for the translation of the KJV, was put together from just a few number of manuscripts, some say as many at 10 or so. As I will note in my next response, Christian scholars began working on “critical” texts of the NT long before Sinaiticus was discovered.
Where were the “textual scholars” before the discovery of Sinaiticus?
Yes. Many of them.
– Jerome, who compared Latin manuscripts to produce the Latin Vulgate. He wrote about his challenges in his selected letters and works.
– Origen (but of course, KJVO apologists dismiss him as a crazy heretic).
– Cardinal Francisco Ximenes de Cisneros who edited a polyglot Bible in 1514.
– Desiderius Erasmus who edited the TR, and what became the base text for a number of English translations including the KJV. His Greek text, by the way, challenged the Latin Vulgate, which everyone claimed was without error (in the same fashion as KJVO apologists claim about the KJV today).
– Theodore de Beze who published 9 editions of the Greek NT.
– Brian Walton, Bishop of Chester, published his Greek text in 1657.
– John Fell who published his text in 1675.
– John Mill’s edition of 1707 that included 78 new manuscripts never published before.
– Edward Wells who prepared a Greek NT between 1709 and 1719 that departed from the TR in a number of readings.
– Richard Bentley who began work publishing a Greek and Latin text restored to their original condition in the 4th century, but died before the work could be completed.
– Johann Bengel who did a thorough cataloging of all 3000 variants in the NT and concluded that none of them did anything to shake evangelical doctrine. Bengel was the first to classify the importance of marginal readings and recognized the need to divide manuscripts into “families” depending upon the regions where they circulated in the ancient world.
There are a few other key individuals, but all of those men I listed did their work long before Tischendorf discovered the Sinaiticus. Or, if we want to believe Chris Pinto’s conspiracy, before Simonides was even born.
Fred believes the KJV translators “used manuscripts that came 900 years after the few that came 200 years after the apostles wrote.” How old are the manuscripts that make up the critical text, such as Sinaiticus? Have these manuscripts been scientifically tested and where can one obtain those results?
KJVO apologists have an aversion to any Christian scholarship except their own. If the scholarship doesn’t affirm their KJVO apologetics, it is of the devil, or from the “Alexandrian cult,” or whatever. It is at this point where conspiracy theories are born.
But with their suspicion of textual criticism, KJVO advocates sound almost exactly like the people who become ex-fundy, anti-homeschool cranks who make lame Youtube videos explaining how the Bible is a corrupted book. We know how old the biblical NT manuscripts are in the same way we know how old any manuscript of antiquity is: by identifying specific stylistic characteristics in the handwriting.
But that hatred of scholarship cuts both ways. How do KJVO advocates know for example that Erasmus choose the right manuscripts? He only used a few, and that according to what he himself said. Honestly, how do we even know anything about early Christianity if scholarship is never to be trusted?
Fred says the KJV went through “many revisions”. What changed, in the KJV, through the process of those revisions?
Now I anticipate that KJVO apologists will claim that there was really no revision at all and that the only “revision” involved modernizing the spelling and updating the words. That is the assertion made in the publications of KJVO apologists like D.A. Waite for example.
However, anyone who takes time to truly examine the claim of “no true revision” will discover it to be completely false. Rick Norris, in his book, The Unbound Scriptures, catalogs hundreds of revisions that involve more than just updating the spelling and punctuation. Benjamin Blayney, who was the reviser of the 1769 edition of the KJV that is one of the standard KJV texts available today, wrote that he corrected many errors and made frequent recourse to the Hebrew and Greek originals.
What’s wrong with having a “high view” of God’s Word? The opposite of that would be a “low view”. Correct? Is that preferable?
I’m not sure where this question comes from, because I take a high view of God’s Word. I just don’t take a high view of the infallibility of the KJV translation.
I can find many Scriptures validating and verifying the purity and perfection of God’s Word. However, I cannot find a single Scripture that warns me of possible errors and inaccuracies or that any will be found in the future. Can you give me a Scripture like that?
Here’s another oddball question that doesn’t make sense. So what if there is no single passage that warns me of possible error and inaccuracies in the Bible. How exactly does that affirm the KJVO view of how the Bible was transmitted down through history?
Fred talks a lot about “critical scholars”. When I look up words related to that, I find that “criticize” means “to pass judgment”. I also find that the word “critic” means “a person who judges merit”. How can one judge the “merit” of God’s Word?
I just sit back in my chair and rub my hands down my face. But for the sake of the person who genuinely wants an answer, no one is judging the “merit” of God’s Word. Textual critics judge the quality of the manuscript, not the message of the manuscript.
Fred also said “scholars have to determine” what the author “originally” wrote. And that “a good textual critic” determines the writing “may not be exactly what was originally intended or originally written”. How can we KNOW what was in the author’s mind? How can we KNOW their intentions? And, how can we KNOW their intentions were some other than what they put on paper??
I’ll just remind people that textual criticism evaluates physical manuscripts and has nothing to do with getting inside the head of the author to really know what he was thinking as if some hidden meaning exists. My commenter seem to be unable to differentiate between the two.
Fred said the job of critical text scholars is basically to make the text “sound good to the ear or to the person reading the text”. Wouldn’t that be merely scratching “itching ears”?
Uh… No. If someone takes the time to go back and listen once more to my interview, I said that many variants are caused by copyists attempting to harmonize parallel passages and smoothing out what appears to be difficult readings. The Bible was primarily read to congregations up and until the time of the Reformation when the printing press was invented. Making the text to be easily read out loud was one of the primary duties of a good copyist. There is nothing nefarious about that.
Where does the job of the Holy Spirit to teach come into play?
Not sure what is being asked with this question. Does the person mean the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying believers by the Word of God or the Holy Spirit preserving the biblical autographs?
Fred says KJV “onlyists” believe people of other language need to learn 17th Century English. I say critical “scholars” believe people either need to learn Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic OR listen to, or read a book by, someone who does. That seems to be a very popish idea!
Yes, it is true that many KJVO apologists believe people need to learn English in order to read the Bible and in the case of the KJV, 17th century Elizabethan English. That is, for example, Sam Gipp’s view in his Answer Book.
As is typical with KJVO defenders, my challenger seems to be unaware of church history, because the “popish” response to new translations in English during the Reformation was one of hostility, claiming that only confusion and apostasy will come if people could read the Bible in their own language in an edition that is not the Latin Vulgate.
While it is certainly preferred that people take the time to learn the original languages (I would expect such from an person seeking to teach the Bible to others), it is not necessary, and providing an English translation that people in our time can read and understand is the only viable option. The true popish mindset is found among the KJVO folks who insist that any modern translation is corrupted and will lead to spiritual harm, which is the exact same position the Catholic church took during the Reformation.
When Fred was talking about what “brought him out of King James Onlyism”, he mentioned several men’s names, one woman’s name, his seminary teaching and his newfound (at the time) appreciation for Calvinism. If you were to ask me what “brought me out” of believing that eclectic textual criticism was the correct way to understand the Bible, I would tell you, “I read the Bible”. The Holy Spirit was my Teacher….not a man, woman, a course, or some “ism”.
In my case, the Holy Spirit, in God’s divine providence, used those several men, that one crazy woman, and the full understanding of biblical salvation to teach me. Those people and God’s Word were the means God used to deliver me from error. So in other words, I read my Bible and the Holy Spirit was my Teacher.
Fred said Calvinists have a “high view of God”. I guess the assumption is that non-Calvinists have a low view of God. Would that be correct?
Since Fred likes Calvinism and states that King James “onlyists” DON’T like Calvinism, how much of that belief, in itself, is responsible for Fred’s current view of the King James Bible?
Here my challenger conflates issues. I like the King James Bible. I even believe it was an important translation for the English people. I said as much at the end of the interview. What I don’t like, however, is being lied to about how we got our Bible, something that KJVO defenders regularly do, as well as being lied to about Calvinism. The doctrines of grace alone are not responsible for my views on KJV Onlyism. But my uncovering the fact that Gail Riplinger lied about Westcott and Hort. KJVO defenders still lie about them, and they lie about historical Calvinists. So my current view is that I like the King James Bible, I don’t like King James Onlyism.
Regarding Westcott and Hort….I have researched their own writings and have information, from their very own words, which tie them to the occult. I will be happy to share links on accurate info regarding W&H with you. And Gail Riplinger didn’t even come across my radar while doing my research..
Really? I doubt that my commenter solely explored the writings of Westcott and Hort apart from the opinions of King James Onlyists. But I’ll bite. Share the links. I would love to take a look at them. References in their printed works would be deeply appreciated. But again, I bet those links have been filtered through the KJVO propaganda machine.
Fred believes we DO have “all the words of God”. Obviously, the King James Bible is not a good enough source for these words. So, where can I, a normal, non-seminarian, find a perfect, error-free, accurate source of God’s Words? Also, along those lines, if nothing has been lost, then where can I find it?
Contrary to the hyped hysteria of KJVO apologists, I certainly believe the King James Bible is an excellent source of God’s Word. I don’t believe, however, that God’s perfect Word is ONLY found in the King James Bible.
I would also add that there are more concise and accurately translated modern editions than what is found in the KJV in certain places. Do each of those modern translations have their own set of difficulties? Well, of course. They are translations from one language into another.
As much as KJVO apologists want to claim the KJV is the only perfect Bible and all other modern translations are really Bible “perversions” rather than “versions,” Christians can rest assured that they will have that exact same “Word” if they choose to read the ESV or the NASB or any conservative, modern translation of the Bible.